I was listening today to Bascom Lamar Lunsford’s “I Wish I Was a Mole in the Ground”, which includes the unforgettable line, “the railroad man, he’ll kill you if he can/And drink out your blood like wine”. Who is this guy? Will he? Why? [more inside]
My wife recently pointed out my lack of good history books about the American Revolution. I have (and loved) James McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom and John Keegan's The First World War, but was struggling to come up with the best single volume history of the war in a similar style to those. There are any number of books that would be great if I wanted to find out information about single aspects of the war and the causes of it, but I want a single book that mostly focuses on the actual who was where and why. [more inside]
So I've been listening to this podcast on the History of Christianity from the Reformed Theological Seminary and there is an odd way that events in the early period of the church are presented which seems rather anachronistic or suffers from "hindsight bias". Is there a term for this? I was wondering if there is literature on this tendency in religious thought (i.e. in which present orthodoxy is retrojected into past debates and conflicts over doctrine.) Is it common? [more inside]
Where could I find a list of significant cathedrals and monasteries in Europe at or around 1000 AD / CE? [more inside]
I've been trying to do some research on whether or not a poorer community in Russia around the turn of the 20th century would have had any access to or knowledge of brown sugar. [more inside]
We're NYCers going on a 2 week trip to Toronto on the 26th. We've never been! What are the new exciting sites? The old established stuff? (Again, we've never been!) We like history, werid engineering dork stuff, movie stuff, dive bars, gayness, unusual stores and secondhand vintage menswear. We don't drive, but we'd like a nice trip out of town by train or even bus. Exciting cuisine a must overall. [more inside]
When did people in the US begin referring to things in their own country as 'Victorian'? And why? Is there any history or controversy behind such a usage?
Was "a little girl in France" the first child to fly in an airplane? [more inside]
I really love Italo Calvino's novels, stories and nonfiction. I'm planning a trip to Europe and was wondering if there is any kind of museum or historic site devoted to him (I was imagining something like the Hemingway Museum). Is there a place that would be especially good to visit for a Calvino fan? I've googled a bit but all I can find is his grave in Castiglione della Pescaia.
I'm looking for great books about the history of how innovation and/or technological change affected society. I want to know about both the direct effects a new technology had and the indirect effects on employment, regulation etc... Interested in books that look at how a single technology changed society and more sweeping overviews. Interested in any time period.
This object has been in my repository for a very long time, and no one knows what it is. It supposedly came in with the papers of an interesting politician/lawyer who served as governor of Tennessee in the early 20th century. [more inside]
A group I'm involved with wants to create and host a temporary local museum. We're struggling though with the logistics of displaying information in the venue while making it look professional. [more inside]
Please suggest pop-history books about day to day life, objects, design and culture. [more inside]
My brother recently showed me some old family photos that show my great-grandfather wearing a dress. My question is: was this a light-hearted thing to do in the times or was my great-grandfather a cross-dresser? [more inside]
WY do so few people live in the state north of Colorado? It is the least populous state in the nation and almost all its neighbors have twice the population. What accounts for such a large difference?
I'd like to see an article or book on the economic history of the French Revolution. While the poor crops and unusually harsh winters seem relatively self-explanatory, I'm interested in the personalities and the constraints that seem to lurk along the edges. [more inside]
So I just finished watching The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. I really liked it! I especially liked that it was not just an historical drama, but used the story of the Simpson murder trial as a way to comment on contemporary life. That is, the show was a vehicle for showing how the issues raised at the time -- of racism, sexism, police misconduct, domestic violence, celebrity culture, the 24-hour media cycle -- are still with us today, and lets us see how our understanding of all those issues is shaped by the impact the trial had on the public consciousness. Where can I find more stuff like this? [more inside]
I'm looking for an essay I read in a collection of critical essays on the origins of literary genres - its thesis was that since the gothic tradition often reversed or undermined mainstream Victorian ideals, it could be seen as a sublimated response to colonial guilt that couldn't be expressed in public. The argument tied it into the practice of keeping looted Egyptian mummies in parlors and the first sprouts of Gothic arriving from the idea of something old and dead and foreign in your home that might be out for revenge. Ring any bells?
I looove watching all the great educational content that's on Youtube. But most of it is Science & Philosophy based. What are some good History channels I should tap into? [more inside]
After the Japanese occupation of Korea in the 40s, my great grandfather was the culture editor of an English language newspaper that published in Korea. That's cool and all but many Koreans in those days were illiterate in Korean never mind English. So who would buy and read this newspaper and what's the point? [more inside]
Is there any evidence of herbs other than tobacco being smoked in Europe prior to tobacco, any evidence of the pipe existing prior to tobacco? [more inside]
I'm trying to figure out why my great-great-grandparents told the 1900 US census they were from Denmark, when really they were from Sweden. Would there have been some reason for the lie at that time? [more inside]
What was sugar like in Europe in 1631? If a recipe called for a couple ounces of sugar, was it conveniently granulated like it is now? [more inside]
Are we more tired than our ancestors? What is causing this? [more inside]
Hey Brilliants, I hope you are all enjoying the beginning of spring! I am researching a new project on secession and am looking for examples in literature, film, tv, etc. of stories that are about a US state or city trying to secede from the union. I'm somewhat aware of Texas' ability to secede but am wondering if anyone has written anything about what would happen if another state or city tried to secede. Thanks so much :) [more inside]
Which events from the last 30 years have been mis-interpreted in the popular consciousness? [more inside]
I've been playing the "airplane game" with my son lately while feeding him. I've seen that game pop up in media from all over the world, so it seems pretty ubiquitous today. I'm curious, are there any records about baby feeding games from before there were airplanes?
What are some good books/resources on the craft of oral storytelling? [more inside]
I have become very interested in reading a book describing the experience of non-nazi sympathizers in Germany - their thoughts and actions - in the years preceding and into the rise of Hitler and the regime. I am just wondering whether the sentiment was "this cannot actually happen," "there is no way this is going to fly," "what a whack job, who would support this?" and "who are these people?" I have found it hard to google, so turning to you all! Are there books that can satisfy this line of thought?
I've been watching the 1978-1979 Hanna-Barbera Godzilla series with my son. There's one episode where the characters encounter the lost city of Atlantis, which turns out to be an alien spaceship. The depiction is similar to the Atlantis city/ship from the Stargate TV series. I'm wondering when the earliest depiction of Atlantis as spaceship occurred. [more inside]
I'm interested in finding accounts of attitudes toward public eating in different social and historical contexts. [more inside]
I'm looking for examples of famous, sensationally reported medical case studies involving brain injury and/or resulting personality changes... besides the story of Phineas Gage.
I haven't been asked directly about my abuse and trauma history when meeting with mental health professionals. Is this standard? If so, why? [more inside]
I'm a 33 year old white man. I have always been uncomfortable with the word negro, for a bunch of reasons. So my question is: can I sing along with Beyonce's Formation? [more inside]
I'm looking for resources and sources on daily life for an average MGM contract player in 1940s - what an average working day looked like -- ideally focusing on mundane details like hours worked, how did you get there, union rules, where you entered and left, where you could and couldn't go etc. The more workaday the better. I've allready gone through Charles Brackett's diaries and halfway through MGM: Hollywood's Greatest Backlot ( which is good for physical locations so far), but its not as focused on the physical operations as I'd like.
My dad was the principle of a school in the '60s during desegregation. He was a good man and managed it peacefully. I have his stories but I think that his experiences were the exception and not the norm. I would like to read fiction and nonfiction of others' experiences during that time. Movie recommendations are also welcome. [more inside]
I am looking for articles (Wikipedia is OK) about both terrible/failed attempts to pay people for x result or wildly successful ones. [more inside]
I’m trying to fact-check an anecdote that I’ve come across in the course of a research project, and coming up short. In a nutshell: did King Umberto I of Italy ever visit Paris at any point between 1889 and his assassination in 1900? The anecdote suggests that he did, but my (admittedly limited) understanding of French-Italian relations at the time suggests that this is unlikely.
My daughter just did one of those elementary school projects where you pick a historical figure and assemble a presentation of things from their life. One of the requirements was for a birth certificate. That got me wondering: would someone like Thomas Jefferson have had a birth certificate? When abouts did that become standard in England / British colonies? Is it something only rich people had or did everyone keep that level of records? [more inside]
If you search Google Maps for "San Francisco", it shows tiny corners of Angel Island and Alameda Island as lying within city limits. Is this accurate? If so, how did the city/county boundary lines get drawn in such an unusual way?
Seeking: a relatively unbiased book (or two, or three) on the history of the Republican and Democratic parties. [more inside]
So I'm starting research on a new project that involves people who supposedly sold their soul to the Devil for something Robert Johnson style. Unfortunately all the searching I'm doing is pointing to him. Help me find the early deals, the famous ones besides RJ and the most recent soul sales attributed to old Scratch.
How would today's cheap, ubiquitous goods (i.e. clothes, shoes, furniture, housewares, miscellaneous equipment, housing, possibly food products) compare to the finest goods available to pre-modern ruling classes? [more inside]
Why is today Thursday, rather than tomorrow or yesterday? I'm not asking why we have a seven day week; I'm asking whether we know how this specific cycle of seven days got started off. And, has it ever been interrupted?
I know that Aristotle mostly faded out after the fall of Rome, and that it was revived when Christian scholars began to translate Arabic editions into Latin in the 12-13th centuries. Fair enough. But what about Homer and the playwrights? Did they similarly disappear, and were they rediscovered alongside Aristotle? Would a 12th century monk have known who Pericles was? Would he have known Herodotus? The Pre-Socratics? If not, how were they recovered? Can someone point me toward some free online material where I can read about this topic? Thanks.
I have been a tea-favorer for many years. I have recently discovered that coffee is pretty good. I'm interested in reading some good histories on both plants/beverages. I am not averse to dry texts, so don't feel restricted to pop-ish books! Who has written the best history/histories on coffee and tea?
I'll be in NYC from Jan 22 - Jan 24 and am overwhelmed with excitement and also panic about What To Do and What To Eat. Can you tell me what you love to do and eat given my wide range of interests? [more inside]
There appear to be a lot of versions of the Lord's Prayer out there. In Europe, between 1400 and 1700, how much did it vary over time and between locations? Did every place/ time have a canonical version or did it vary by sect? Is there a map or resources that show how translations shifted between times and locations? [more inside]
Please help me find photos of poor to middle class living space interiors, in everyday condition vs. spiffed up for the photographer, from the Victorian era through the 1940s? American settings primarily, Western Europe okay too. Stipulation: no corpses. [more inside]
For a project I'm doing, I'd like an illustrated book with lots of information on the physical world of the Bible - particularly animals, plants, and insects. I can look up what's mentioned in the Bible on Wikipedia, but I want more than that. I want to be able to page through an illustrated work (color) - bonus points if there are commentaries from scholars - and to learn a lot about all of the creatures mentioned without having to turn to my computer for complete information. More below. [more inside]